By Cass Gregg (Twitter: @Papa_Cass Instagram: @papa_cass320) post rally against Fish Farms at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Monday September 5th.
The phone rang and I got the call I had been wanting to get all summer. It was my cousin calling to see how I was more or less. As soon as we got passed the phone call pleasantry protocol though, I asked right away:
“Did you guys go fishing?”
“No, not this weekend but last weekend. Got about a dozen, but Dad wants to go this weekend, just to get enough for canning.” my cousin said to me on the other line.
“So you’re going this weekend? I’m coming up.” I responded without hesitation.
These plans were ones that I have been trying to make all summer, only summer is of course in the rear view now. This is probably the last chance to go this year. At the rate things are going, it might be some of the last chances ever unfortunately.
When I attended the anti-fish farm solidarity event in support of the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw People at the Vancouver Art Gallery the other week, it really hit me hard when a speaker at the rally stated, “I ask this question wherever I go. How many people here have caught a salmon with your father, your uncle, your grandfather?” Many hands rose among the attendees, including my own. This statement, as innocuous as it may seem, in fact caused an emotional reaction within myself that I did not expect. I began to get overcome with a feeling almost instantly of losing that exact experience with my family. It hit me at that moment just how much the answer to that question means to me.
On Returning home, peace on the river
For a long time now, I have been going fishing as much as I could with my Uncle and his son. For me, it’s one of the primary things that has connected me to my Father’s people’s culture. It makes me feel at home, it makes me feel like I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. I know that like the salmon returning home, I too must return home. The same way they have learned to return at that time of year, so too have I. I never feel more at peace with things anywhere else than when I am on that river, catching the salmon like my ancestors have done for many generations before.
“How many of you want to do the same thing for your grandchildren?” the speaker asked. That statement what hit me the most. I don’t want this tradition to be gone. It made me tear up just thinking that we face the possibility of being some of the last generations to have done this harvest, one that has sustained many people up and down our coasts and all along many rivers within this land we call home.
Many hands rose again and cheers erupted from the listening crowd of supporters.
“That’s the fight we are facing today. Wild salmon and the governments that have been in play for far too long have lost sight of the value. The fundamental value of healthy and abundant wild salmon stocks of British Columbia. It was one of the primary foundations of this province and now they are foregoing it for benefits to Norwegians and the companies that live across the Atlantic Ocean. Because I know the reliant (people) and the appreciation of wild salmon extends far beyond First Nations people.”
“That is why I am so happy to see so many people here today. And now our job is to take this wonderful event that we’ve had, make use of your cellphones, get on Facebook, get on Twitter, #wildsalmonmatter, and let’s tag in the government at every opportunity. And if you’re shooting video, let’s get it up on the social media so we can then make this go viral and the government can’t deny the voice of British Columbians.”
Everyone in the crowd began to yell and hoot and drum in support of this message. It was a great moment but it was also a sobering one for me. I hadn’t really thought about the chance of being part of the last generations to go to the rivers we have been going to for all these many years. Many generations of the same families going to these places to maintain our lives from for these many years.
I don’t want to be a part of that generation, I want to be a part of the generation that will fight the power, fight the powers that be! (To quote my heroes Public Enemy.)